By Dr. Shela Hirani (PhD, IBCLC, RN, Associate Professor, University of Regina, Faculty of Nursing, Canada)
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the vulnerability of mothers and young children around the globe due to lack of opportunity to have regular contact with healthcare professionals, inaccessibility to breastfeeding counselling facilities, growing myths and misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding, loss of family income, stress associated with uncertain future etc.
Breast milk is a complete nutrition for the young children. It is essential for the brain development, promotes growth, saves money and time, and prevents risks of infections. Considering benefits of breastfeeding, early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth is recommended and its continuation is recommended up to 2 years. Transmission of COVID-19 through breastmilk or breastfeeding has not been detected, therefore, there is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding during COVID-19. As recommended by World Health Organization (2020), it is safe to continue breastfeeding during COVID-19 pandemic. Evidences suggest that the benefits of breastfeeding during COVID-19 is greater than the risks.
Recently, I received Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation’s (SHRF) Research Connections COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding to develop a knowledge mobilization tool to promote, protect and support breastfeeding during COVID-19.
To mobilize knowledge on “Breastfeeding during COVID-19”, I along with my team have developed an animated video on “Breastfeeding during COVID-19” to provide evidence-based, easy to understand, accessible and user-friendly information to breastfeeding mothers and general public.
This developed e-resource provides information on evidence-based recommendations on breastfeeding during COVID-19, importance of breastfeeding during COVID-19 pandemic, ways breastfeeding mothers can protect themselves and young children from COVID-19, maintaining bonding with newborn/infant during the period of social isolation, assuring good mental health during pandemic, alternate safe feeding options if breast-feeding is not possible, hand washing technique, and preparation of home-based disposable face mask.
Let’s spread the word in support of mothers all over the world. Happy Mother’s Day!!
“Breastfeeding during COVID-19” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/breastfeedingduringcovid19/
Dr. Shela Hirani is a neonatal and child health nursing professional, academician, researcher, volunteer and an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She has completed her PhD in Nursing from the University of Alberta, Canada. Dr. Hirani is the recipient of Canada’s most prestigious scholarship awards, including the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship Award, Honorary Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship Award, and Dorothy J Killam Memorial Graduate Prize. She is also the recipient of several other national, international, and university-based awards based on her outstanding academic performance, leadership potentials and research outputs. She is actively involved in curriculum development, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, and execution of community-based research work.